The Four Elements and the Tarot Aces

The Four Elements In Your Life

Considered by the ancients to be the building blocks of everything, the Four Elements can be seen and felt everywhere. While that may seem like a simplistic approach in this modern technical era, just take a moment to consider your own direct experiences with the elements.

element of fire

Apart from their direct physical effect outside, the wind (Air), the rain (Water), the heat from the Sun (Fire) and the ground that supports you (Earth), the Elements are also aligned to inner processes and actions. How you feel (Water) to how you think (Air); you could be angry (Fire) or just plain stubborn (Earth).

element of water

You may enjoy sports, which will cover a number of the Elements. Indeed, planning for a sporting event requires thought (Air), you will need to practice and participate (Earth); it will require determination and passion to push yourself (Fire), and will cause you to experience a myriad of emotions, win or lose (Water).

So, you could be doing any number of things and you will be applying the Elemental Essences to your life and experiencing them directly. Once you’ve explored this a little further, you will see how familiar you are with them already.

The Four Elements In Nature

element of air

Fire provides us with light and heat; is destructive yet regenerative; is an energy source; self-perpetuating; it will continue burning until extinguished or its fuel source runs out.

Water is vital to life, about 80% of our bodies are water; it nourishes our planet and inhabitants; can be still or turbulent and destructive; water is flexible, held in 3 states: solid, liquid and gas; it has movement – it ebbs and flows; is tidal and can rise and fall; not contained and water can flood.

element of earth

Air can be cleansing yet devastating; also vital to life; we need air to breathe; can feed fire and hold water and will rise when hot; can be wet or dry.

Earth holds water and can sustain fire; air blows around it; a stabilising element; it’s solid and stable and sustains life.

It’s a useful exercise to meditate on how the mundane characteristics and actions of the physical elements are transposed into their esoteric counterparts.

The Four Elements In Metaphysics And The Esoteric

Fire is energy and action, it’s passion, drive and ambition. An active element, it can cause permanent change; is expansive; can be aggressive; is pro-active and undeterred.

water symbol

Water is seen as the emotions, your feelings, your intuition. Considered passive, water can be deep or shallow; you like the ocean, are responsive to the moon; your tears can rise and fall; out of control, your emotions flood;

air symbol

Air is seen as the intellect, logic and reasoning. An active element, Air circulates and so cleanses; it carries your thoughts and dreams; is also expansive when hot and is said to be expressive. Your mind or thoughts can be seen as clear or clouded; speech requires breath, which requires air.

earth symbol

Earth is seen as the material, the physical and the sensual. A Passive element, Earth allows growth and actual production; promotes prosperity; is the foundation on which anything is built.

Looking through the brief descriptions of the Aces below, try and see how the definitions of Tarot suits, and in particular the Aces, have been connected to the elements.

The Tarot Aces

The Tarot Aces are the raw energy or essence of the suit they represent. As yet unformed, they are the potential of the element at its purest.

Out of sequence and in a purely elemental sense, the Aces show all the components that are required to make or form anything, and very simply can be thought of in this way:

Everything begins with a thought or an idea – this is the suit of Swords and the element Air. Wands/Fire breathe life into it, they give it energy. Cups/Water provides sentience and aesthetics, while Pentacles/Earth completes the formation by providing solidity to the original idea.

In a Tarot reading, the Aces can be seen as a gift, as a positive influence in life. Any one of them can be seen as a good omen in any spread. Likewise, the presence of the essence of the Tarot Aces must be used or acted upon for they carry no guarantee and can be lost.

quest tarot aces

Ace of Wands is the creative energy; a new project or creative endeavour; a passionate union; a new start; willpower; drive and ambition.

Ace of Cups is love in its purest sense; its connection to the divine source; psychism; intuition; feelings and emotions; mind, body and spirit in union; abundance.

Ace of Swords represents the creative idea; the sword of truth; gaining clarity; a brilliant idea; justice; mental strength.

Ace of Pentacles represents the beginning stages of something tangible; prosperity; growth; material abundance; new enterprise; improving finances or wealth; a solid fruitful foundation.

While there are many more keywords to the Tarot Aces, for the purposes of this illustration, it is only necessary to show the relationship between the four elements and the tarot aces to help further your understanding of the association and overlaying of the four elements in tarot. An expansion of these keywords is included in the relevant suit sections.

The Quest Tarot is used with the kind permission of its creator Joseph Ernest Martin.

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